Your luck just ran out.
There has been one story consistently dominating the news stands and magazine racks for the last six years or so, and it is clearly the dominant political issue of our times. No, it’s not marriage equality. No, it’s not the Iraq War. No, it’s not the recession. It has only ever been, in fact, this question:
Jennifer Aniston or Angelina Jolie?
To this question I tend to reply: I’m not Brad Pitt (obviously) so I never had to choose between the two. It’s a Coke/Pepsi, Betty/Veronica kind of a decision – you could probably pick a favorite if you really had to, but it’d be a photo finish. Both options are pretty great.
That said, Jennifer Aniston is the only one who appeared in a Leprechaun movie, so she holds a special place in my heart, and has for almost fifteen years. I don’t imagine she’d appreciate me spotlighting this early credit on her resume, but she’s welcome to take it up with me personally. I have only nice things to say about her in Leprechaun. However, it’s interesting to note that, while it’s hard to remember a time when Jennifer Aniston wasn’t one of the most famous people on the planet, on this movie she took second billing.
Marvel put little effort into their She-Hulk movie poster.
Look at that poster. Look whose name comes first. Look who appears first. Look where your eye is drawn, despite the pretty lady in the foreground. If the Leprechaun franchise is comparable to the James Bond franchise in any way, it’s that Jennifer Aniston’s role in it is that of a Bond girl. She may be the best of them, she may be the Ursula Andress of the Leprechaun movies, but she’s still not the star of the franchise. Warwick Davis is. Warwick Davis… is James Bond.
At the time of Leprechaun‘s release, Warwick Davis had appeared in Return Of The Jedi and Labyrinth, but was otherwise best known for his starring role as the idealistic, courageous magician called upon to save the day in the George Lucas/ Ron Howard epic fantasy film Willow.
"Heroes come in all sizes."
From that role, of quintessential decency, to a role of the most vile and lascivious evil – this is some range.
Yes I said that.
You can’t see me right now, but my tongue is not at rest in my cheek; it is instead blowing a disparaging raspberry at all those who disagree. I won’t ever make the argument that Leprechaun is in any way a great, good, or even decent movie, but I will argue that Warwick Davis dives into a thoroughly ridiculous role to hugely entertaining results, and that such a performance does in fact require a talented actor. Without Johnny Depp’s lead in the Pirates Of The Caribbean flicks, Jack Sparrow does not endure.
Warwick Davis as "Willow Ulfgood."
Warwick Davis as "The Leprechaun."
So it is with Warwick Davis and his portrayal of the evil Leprechaun. He gives his entire commitment, even in the scene where he is forced by the film’s protagonists to run around shining shoes as they toss them into his path. (If you’re asking why, you’re probably giving the detail more thought than the filmmakers did, but it has something to do with a little-known rule of legend that evil leprechauns remain shoemakers by trade and therefore cannot stop themselves from plying that trade, even amidst a homicidal rampage.) With the Leprechaun, Warwick Davis managed to create a memorable movie monster, even if the distance between the Leprechaun and Michael Myers or Francis Dollarhyde is akin to the distance between Jupiter and Cleveland.
Probably not included on her Lifetime Achievement reel.
The supporting cast, or his stable of victims, is not quite as memorable. In fact, without going back to the original film, the only characters besides the evil Leprechaun who I even remember are Jennifer Aniston, who did her job and sometimes acted scared and was otherwise adequate and adorable, and Mark Holton, who is best known as Chubs (cruel naming there) from the Teen Wolf pictures, and more importantly, as Francis from Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure.
"Hey, it's Enrico Palazzo!"
In Leprechaun, he plays Ozzie, a mentally-challenged handyman who sets off the whole chain of events by finding the Leprechaun’s pot of gold at the end of a rainbow and promptly swallowing one of the gold coins. Basically, the Leprechaun can’t have his money fucked with. Whenever that happens, he shows up to take back his gold and to kill everyone who comes in contact with it. You can keep your Pulp Fiction and your Seinfeld: “I need me gold!” is one of the great lost catchphrases of the 1990s. The exchange between Ozzie and the Leprechaun when they realize the location of the last gold shilling is also pretty priceless. Basically, any interchange between these two dudes are among the film’s highlights.
"You only got away because me powers are weak! I NEED ME GOLD!"
Besides all that? Even if you haven’t seen this movie, you’ve already seen it. Spooky prologue introducing villain, protagonists introduced, GOLD, “gulp,” villain shows up to reclaim his property, murder, murder, murder, murder, good guys win, but maybe villain will come back. Same structure as most horror flicks — it’s just a series of murders of peripheral characters by the evil Leprechaun, as Jennifer Aniston and her friends try to find out how to stop him. [SPOILER: Four-leaf clover, slingshot, mouth, “I’m melting!”]
What I fondly remember from this movie are the various methods of transportation appropriated by the Leprechaun, most of which double as implements of murder: the mini-car, the pogo-stick, the roller skates, the wheel chair. It’s amazing to watch, if a bit insane, considering the fact that the Leprechaun has the power to magically teleport himself anywhere he wants.
Anyway, that’s what you need to know about the first one. If for some reason someone reads these articles and is somehow persuaded to actually watch these movies, this is one of two to watch. The franchise very quickly gets very rough on you, as we’ll soon see.
Next up: Leprechaun 2: Bride Of Leprechaun (1994).